The biggest in population city of Crete is located in the center of the north side of the island. The big port, with frequent routes from Piraeus and the airport with also frequent flights, facilitate thousands of tourists who visit the region. It is near Knossos, the core of Minoan culture but equally near to other areas which give the chance to visitors to admire many sights. At north beaches, the visitors will see the biggest hotels which are built near to gold-sanded coasts, while on the Libyan sea’s side there are cosmopolitan in addition to the quiet beaches that await tourists to come. Beautiful sunny coasts await those who love the sea. Amnissos, Saint Pelagia, Kali Limenes, Malia, Chani Kokkini, Limenas Chersonisou, Matala and Ammudara are some of the wonderful sandy beaches with crystal water.
Heraklion in ancient times was one of the islands’ ports, part of Knossos. It was called this way until 824 A.D., when conquerors from Saracen’s empire entrenched the city digging a fosse and named it Chandakas. In Venetian times the name Candia will be hold. During the Turkish period, the city was renamed to Big Castle. Heraklion took again its ancient name after the island’s release from Turks in 1898.
Emblem of the city was the medieval koules (i.e. castle of the 16th century) which is located in the Venetian port. The first fortresses were built by Arabians and then reinforced by Venetians. Only one of seven parapets has been saved, the parapet called Martinego, where the grave of Nikos Kazantzakis, the famous writer, is located. His grave is known for the simple and characteristic inscription: “I do not hope for anything, I am not afraid of anything, I am free”. From his grave anyone can have panoramic view of the city. Two of the four entrance gates are saved: Chanioporta (1570) with the characteristic repousse winged lion of Saint Markos and Kenourgia Porta (1587) on the south.
The Archaeological Museum of Heraklion is considered to be one of the greatest museums in the world, as it constitutes the ark of Minoan culture. Thousands of archaeological findings, like the Festos Disk, the gold necklace of Malia or the stoneware dancers from Kamilari, capture a great history which is fading away as years go by. The Historical Museum of Heraklion presents the timeless evolution of Heraklion city, where El Greco’s three paintings make the difference. In addition to those, the museum includes Kazantzakis manuscripts. The Cretan Ethnological Museum at Borus reflects scenes from ordinary life in the past and moments of the island’s folk culture. The Museum of National History at Dermata’s port.
Every visitor of the city will definitely cross the Freedom Square (three Kamares), where is Eleftherios Venizelos statue. On the left side of the square there is the Archaeological Museum of Heraklion. Dedalos street (west to freedom square) is a popular street with many shops ending up to Venizelos square where is Krini Morozini or Liontaria (1628). On the opposite side and eastward of Krini the basilica church of Saint Markos is located, which was built in 1239.
Following straight from the port the street of 25th August, we find the square with the church of Saint Titos (built in 1872), while near to it holds the Venetian Loggia (16th century), an impressive Venetian palace with arcades, which was Duke's Club and officers of Crete. Nowadays, the aforementioned place is the Town Hall of the city. Impressive enough is the Cathedral of St. Mina (St. Catherine Square), which was built in the period 1862 to 1895 and impresses with its size and position. Beside her is the chapel of Short St. Menas, while at northeast is the church of Saint Catherine (16th cent.), which serves as a museum of art and realizations of the Cretan Renaissance.